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Caught Live : Scritti Politti (Camden Roundhouse 05.02.16)

Caught Live : Scritti Politti – Camden Roundhouse (05.02.16)

Last time I caught Scritti Politti live it was at the Bush Hall in Shepherds Bush, but this time we are sat down in Camden’s famous Roundhouse venue. The band appeared as part of the In The Round festival and chose to showcase a sample of new material alongside their back catalogue which now stretches for almost forty years.

It seems quite extraordinary that singer Green Gartside will be 60 this year as he looks and sounds much younger. His honeyed vocals show no so sign of decline on show opener ‘The Sweetest Girl’, a track which became a top forty hit for Madness despite peaking at just no.64 in its original format.

‘A Day Late And A Dollar Short’ was recorded for the 2011 compilation ‘Absolute’ and was described by Green as being written at the start of the financial crisis in 2008. ‘Die Alone’ is up next and first appeared in 1999 on the ‘Anomie & Bonhomie’ album. Without anyone else on stage to perform the rap the honour is left to Green but he carries it off without a problem.

According to chart placing ‘The Word Girl’ was the bands biggest hit peaking at no.6 and it goes down well with the crowd. I first heard ‘Boom Boom Bap’ when it was performed by the bands alter-ego Double G & The Traitorous 3 and just as was the case that night you can hear a pin drop in the auditorium during the tracks quiet intro.

‘Jacques Derrida’ featured on the bands debut album ‘Songs To Remember’ although this was released five years after the band first performed. The title refers to the French philosopher and Green happily admits that he didn’t quite get the prenounciation right when he first recorded the song.

‘Oh Patti (Don’t Feel Sorry For Loverboy)’ was another sizeable hit and originally featured Miles Davis on trumpet.  Miles passed away some twenty five years ago but tonights stand in does an admirable job and rightly gains applause from the crowd.  We then find ourselves taken back to 1999 for a trip through ‘Brushed With Oil, Dusted With Powder’.

What follows is a real treat for fans who have been with the band since their 1970’s formation.  ‘Asylums In Jerusalem’ came close to giving the band a debut top forty hit when it peaked at no.43 in 1982, appearing as it did as a double a side with the aforementioned ‘Jacques Derrida’. ‘Skank Bloc Bologna’ was the bands debut single and gets a full airing tonight followed by ’28/08/78′ which featured a newly recorded intro by newsreader Harriet Cass who was also in the audience. Green describes the song as “quite a racket” and it is certainly a long way from the polished pop music the band produced in the 1980’s.

The band weren’t afraid to give us a glimpse into some newly recorded / never released material. They peformed a medley which included ‘I Wrote This Song For Today’, ‘Slyday Morning’, ‘Hair Pull’ and ‘Mother Succubus’. Hopefully we can expect a new Scritti album at some point soon – it has been ten years now since the success of ‘White Bread Black Beer’.

We move back into more familiar territory with ‘Petrococodollar’ before the main set closes with the bands two big 1984 singles ‘Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)’ and ‘Absolute’ with each sounding as fine today as they ever did over thirty years ago.

I wasn’t sure if we would see an encore after such closure but after rapturous applause the band returned to play two new songs; ‘Slow Deceit’ and ‘Willard Van Orman Quine’.  Few bands could get away with playing new songs at that stage of a show but the fans are appreciative of the new material and go home feeling very happy with what they have seen and heard.

The band often haven’t been given enough credit for their output. ‘She’s A Woman’ showcased the talents of Shabba Ranks before his first UK hit and few bands will have registered the huge change from indie guitar heroes on their early output to the pure pop of the 1980’s to the more experimental sound of their later albums. It was a joy to watch the show and I look forward to the announcement of more dates later on in the year.



Ian Anderson


20 February, 2016 - Posted by | ChartChat

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